David Alan Grier
Grier in August 2007
Born (1956-06-30) June 30, 1956 (age 65)
EducationUniversity of Michigan, Ann Arbor (BA)
Yale University (MFA)
OccupationActor, comedian
Years active1981–present
  • Maritza Rivera
    (m. 1987; div. 1997)
  • Christine Y. Kim
    (m. 2007; div. 2010)

David Alan Grier (born June 30, 1956)[1] is an American actor and comedian. He is best known for his work on the sketch comedy television show In Living Color, as Bernard on Damon (1998), as David Bellows on Life with Bonnie (2002–2004), as Joe Carmichael on The Carmichael Show (2015–2017), as Hal on A Series of Unfortunate Events (2018), and for his movie roles such as Roger in Streamers (1983), Carl Bentley in Jumanji (1995), and Jim Fields in Bewitched (2005).

Early life and education

Grier was born in Detroit, Michigan, one of three children,[2] to Aretas Ruth (née Blaney), a school teacher, and William Henry Grier, a psychiatrist and writer, who co-wrote the book Black Rage.[3]

He graduated from Detroit's Cass Technical High School, and received a B.A. in radio, television and film[4] from the University of Michigan, and an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama, in 1981. Visiting lecturer, Rachel Roberts, took notice of his performance one evening in a piece entitled The Place of the Spirit Dance.[5]


After graduating from Yale, Grier landed the role of Jackie Robinson in the short-lived Broadway musical The First, directed by Martin Charnin and written by Joel Siegel. Grier was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical and won the Theatre World Award for The First. He got his start on the National Public Radio radio drama adaptation of Star Wars in 1981. He was the voice of a nameless X-wing fighter pilot during the Battle of Yavin.[citation needed]

Grier later starred as James "Thunder" Early in the hit Broadway musical Dreamgirls. Grier made his film debut in 1983 in Streamers, directed by Robert Altman. He won the Golden Lion for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival for the film. He appeared in the Negro Ensemble Company production A Soldier's Play and reprised his role in the film version A Soldier's Story. Grier appeared as a geology professor at Hillman College in the show A Different World.

In Living Color

Although primarily known for his dramatic work, Grier began to shift towards comedy, making appearances in the cult films Amazon Women on the Moon and I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, whose director Keenen Ivory Wayans cast Grier in his new variety show In Living Color. It became a ratings hit and won an Emmy for Outstanding Variety Series. Grier became a popular cast member through his characters, which ranged from hyperactive children to crotchety old men. Some of his more well-known characters were flamboyant and effeminate Antoine Merriweather in the "Men on..." sketch series, blues musician Calhoun Tubbs (based on Shakey Jake, a busker who often performed near the Michigan campus) megaphone-blaring shop teacher Al MacAfee, the elderly Mr. Brooks, and Tiny, a prison inmate obsessed with female "breastesses".

Acting career

After his success on In Living Color, Grier began appearing in film comedies such as Boomerang, as Eddie Murphy's shy friend Gerard in 1992; Blankman, with Damon Wayans, in 1994; In the Army Now, as Fred Ostroff with Pauly Shore and Andy Dick, also in 1994; and as a policeman whose car is crushed and eaten by a giant pod in Jumanji in 1995. He played Rev. Leon Lonnie Love on the TV series Martin.

Grier appeared with Tom Arnold in the 1997 comedy McHale's Navy as Ensign Charles Parker. In 1999, he made a guest appearance as himself in the "Aw, Here it Goes to Hollywood" episode of Nickelodeon's sitcom Kenan & Kel.[6] After the cancellation of In Living Color, Grier starred in the short-lived sitcoms The Preston Episodes, Damon (with In Living Color co-star Damon Wayans), and DAG. He had a cameo in the Robert De Niro and Edward Burns film 15 Minutes (2001) as a Central Park mugger. In a departure from the childlike roles he often played on In Living Color, he portrayed an abusive father in Rusty Cundieff's anthology film Tales from the Hood.

In 2002, Grier joined the cast of the improv-based ABC sitcom and Bonnie Hunt vehicle Life with Bonnie which ran for two seasons. During this time, he continued to appear in comedy films but also returned to drama in the films Baadasssss! (2003) and The Woodsman (2004). He starred in his own Comedy Central stand-up special The Book of David: The Cult Figure's Manifesto. He is also a frequent guest on the Comedy Central show Crank Yankers. Grier was the host of the NBC show Thank God You're Here. He starred in Gym Teacher: The Movie (2008) playing the villain, Shelly Bragg. He appeared as Uncle Henry in the ABC 2005 television film The Muppets' Wizard of Oz.

In October 2008, Grier hosted Chocolate News, a Comedy Central spoof of a TV news magazine show. Comedy Central did not renew the show for a second season. He appeared as Sugar Bear in the 2009 film Dance Flick.

Grier guest starred in Season 6 of Fox's Bones. He played Professor Bunsen Jude, the Science Dude, the host of a children's TV program. This character was inspired by Bill Nye "the Science Guy".[7]

In May 2013, Grier appeared in Tyler Perry Presents Peeples, playing the role of Virgil Peeples, alongside Kerry Washington and Craig Robinson. Also in 2013, Grier appeared in The Watsons Go To Birmingham, a Hallmark Channel adaptation of Christopher Paul Curtis' 1995 Newbery Honor-winning novel, The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963. He appeared on the CBS TV-adaptation of Bad Teacher, playing the role of principal Carl Gaines.[8] He played the Cowardly Lion in NBC's live performance of The Wiz, which aired on December 3, 2015.[9]

In 1998, Grier co-starred with Jon Stewart in Elmopalooza, as the director of Jon's production crew, who he often chastises at Elmo and Telly after realizing what happened to the rest of the cast. In 2008, Grier starred in the Comedy Central series Chocolate News which had satirical sketches about current events and news stories. It lasted for one season of ten episodes. Grier appeared as Jimmy Dale in the series Queen Sugar appearing in Season 3 and played the role of Mr. Packard in the Paramount Pictures film Clifford the Big Red Dog.[10]


Grier is a stand-up comedian and hosted the Comedy Central series Premium Blend in 2001. He was ranked no. 94 on Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups.[when?][citation needed] He made an appearance on the Dave, Shelley, and Chainsaw (DSC) Show (San Diego Jack 100.7 FM) on October 5, 2012, before doing performances at The Madhouse Comedy Club. In the interview, he debunked internet reports that he was involved in a musical based on the life of Louis Farrakhan.[11]


Grier returned to Broadway to perform in the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1997.[12] He returned to Broadway for the premiere of Race, written and directed by David Mamet, opposite James Spader, Kerry Washington, and Richard Thomas, which opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on December 6, 2009. Grier received his second Tony Award nomination for his role.[13] He also appeared in the revival production of The Wiz at the La Jolla Playhouse directed by Des McAnuff.[14]

Grier appeared on Broadway as Sportin' Life in the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, which opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on January 12, 2012, alongside Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald. He was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for this role.[15] In addition to his Tony Award nomination, Grier received a 2013 Grammy nomination for Best Musical Theater Album for his performance on the cast recording of the play.[16]

In January 2020, Grier returned to the stage for the Broadway production of A Soldier's Play, this time playing Tech Sergeant Vernon C. Waters, the role originated by Adolph Caesar in the off-Broadway production.[17] For this role, he won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play.[18]

Other work

In 1998 David hosted the game show Random Acts of Comedy on what is now Freeform. The show lasted one season. He was a contestant on the eighth season of Dancing with the Stars,[19] partnered with Kym Johnson. By the fourth week of the competition, Grier announced that he had lost 26 pounds.[20] He was eliminated in the fifth week.

His first book Barack Like Me: The Chocolate-Covered Truth was published by Simon & Schuster in 2009.[21][22] The book recounts Grier's own life story, and was written with Alan Eisenstock.

He appeared in an episode of Clean House along with his brother and his brother's family. Grier invited the show to help his brother due to his severe problems with clutter, and the family received a home makeover. He hosted the game show Snap Decision, which debuted August 7, 2017 on the Game Show Network and many Sinclair TV stations.[23]

Personal life

Grier was married to Maritza Rivera and divorced in 1997. In July 2007, he married Christine Y. Kim, an associate curator of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She gave birth to their daughter, Luisa Danbi Grier-Kim on January 10, 2008, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles.[24] On July 9, 2009, Kim filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.[25]

When Grier was young, his family marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in a March on Poverty in Detroit, where King gave an early version of the "I Have A Dream" speech.[26]

He is a fan of motorcycles,[27][28][29][30][31] and owns the rare Yamaha YZF-R1 Limited Edition.[32] On the August 10, 2009, episode of Loveline, Grier agreed to auction it to aid Bryan Bishop's Tumor Fund, but walked off set while Carolla and the audio engineer bickered on air.[citation needed] He is an avid cook and began food blogging during the run of the play Race, where James Spader helped to critique the food Grier made.[26]



Year Title Role Notes
1983 Streamers Roger
1984 A Soldier's Story Corporal Cobb
1985 Beer Elliott Morrison
1987 From the Hip Steve Hadley
Amazon Women on the Moon Don 'No Soul' Simmons
1988 Off Limits Rogers
Me and Him Peter Conklin
I'm Gonna Git You Sucka Newsman
1990 Loose Cannons Drummond
Almost an Angel Det. Bill
1992 The Player Himself
Boomerang Gerard
1994 In the Army Now Fred Ostroff
Blankman Kevin Walker
1995 Tales from the Hood Carl
Jumanji Carl Bentley
Goldilocks and the Three Bears Spike
1997 McHale's Navy Ensign Charles Parker
Top of the World Detective Augustus
1998 Elmopalooza Himself (show's director)
1999 Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby Mr. Butz
1999 Stuart Little Red Voice
2000 3 Strikes Detective Jenkins
2000 Return to Me Charlie Johnson
2000 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle Measures
2001 15 Minutes Mugger in Central Park
2003 Baadasssss! Clyde Houston
2003 Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie Himself/Announcer
2003 Tiptoes Jerry Robin, Jr.
2004 The Woodsman Bob
2005 Bewitched Jim Fields
2006 Little Man Jimmy
2008 Kissing Cousins The Griller
2008 The Hustle Rev. Isaac Montgomery Paid
2008 The Poker House Stymie
2008 An American Carol Rastus Malone
2009 Dance Flick Sugar Bear
2009 Astro Boy Mr. Squirt / Math Cowboy / Boxer Robot Voice
2010 Something Like a Business 3D
2011 Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil Moss the Troll Voice
2013 Peeples Virgil Peeples
2015 Road Hard Michael
2017 The Big Sick Andy Dodd
2018 Arizona Coburn
2018 Sprinter Coach
2019 Native Son Marty
2020 Coffee & Kareem Captain Hill
2021 Clifford the Big Red Dog Mr. Packard


Year Title Role Notes
1983 Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Various Voices Episode: "Freedom's Winter" & "Dark Lord's Fury"
1985 The Equalizer Desk Sergeant Episode: "The Lock Box"
1986 All Is Forgiven Oliver Royce Main Cast
1987 CBS Summer Playhouse Deter Phibin Episode: "Kingpins"
A Different World Prof. Bryan Walcott Episode: "Romancing Mr. Stone"
1988 Tour of Duty Harold Episode: "Soldiers"
Duet Gordon Episode: "Oh My God, I Left the Baby on the Bus"
Tanner '88 Secret Serviceman Episode: "Child's Play" & "The Great Escape"
Baby Boom Episode: "Pilot"
The Dictator Episode: "Reading, Writing and Rebellion"
1989 ALF FBI Agent #1 Episode: "Wanted: Dead or Alive"
1990 Equal Justice Stone Episode: "A Sucker's Bet"
1990–94 In Living Color Various Roles Main Cast
1993–97 Martin Reverend Leon Lonnie Love Recurring Cast
1995 Saturday Night Live Antoine Meriweather Episode: "Damon Wayans/Dionne Farris"
Dream On Marshall Episode: "Take Two Tablets, and Get Me to Mt. Sinai"
The Preston Episodes David Preston Main Cast
Pinky and the Brain Marlon (voice) Episode: "TV or Not TV"
Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Bongo (voice) Episode: "The Valiant Little Tailor"
Saturday Night Live Himself/Host/Various Episode: "David Alan Grier/Silverchair"
1997 Hercules: The Animated Series The Glove / The Blues Man (voice) Episode: "A Friend in Greed" & "Rebel Without a Paw"
Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Dudley Bear (voice) Episode: "Goldilocks and the Three Bears"
1998 Damon Bernard Main Cast
Cosby Gil Episode: "Chemistry"
Hercules: The Animated Series Memnon (voice) Episode: "Hercules and the Living Legend" & "Hercules and the Phil Factor"
1999 A Saintly Switch Dan Anderson Television movie
1999 The '60s Fred Hampton Television movie
1999 Kenan & Kel Himself Episode: "Aw, Here It Goes To Hollywood : Part 2"
2000 Angels in the Infield Bob Bugler Television movie
2000 The X-Files Cinema Audience Episode: "Hollywood A.D."
2000 Buzz Lightyear of Star Command Tubunch (voice) Episode: "Stress Test"
2000–01 DAG Jerome Dagget 17 episodes
2002 King of Texas Rip Television movie
2002 Sesame Street Aladdin Episode: "#33.45"
2002 Boston Public Laurence Williams Episode: "Chapter Forty-Two"
2002 The Proud Family Reuben (voice) Episode: "Behind Family Lines"
2002–04 Life with Bonnie David Bellows 44 episodes
2002–20 Crank Yankers Various voices 20 episodes
2003 Samurai Jack Da Samurai/Junk Monster (voice) Episode: "Samurai Versus Samurai"
2003–05 My Wife and Kids Jimmy 3 episodes
2005 The Muppets' Wizard of Oz Uncle Henry Television movie
2007 Thank God You're Here Host 7 episodes
2008 Chocolate News Host 10 episodes
2010 Bones Professor Bunsen Jude Episode: "The Body and the Bounty"
2010 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Jeremy Swift Episode: "Branded"
2013 The Cleveland Show Ebert Williams (voice) Episode: "The Hangover: Part Tubbs"
2013 Happy Endings Terry Chuckles Episode: "In the Heat of the Noche"
2013 Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja Rudd Rhymez (voice) Episode: "Hip Hopocalypse Now"
2014 The Soul Man Jesse Episode: "Obama Drama"
2014 Bad Teacher Carl Gaines 13 episodes
2014 Black Dynamite Doctor (voice) Episode: "How Honeybee Got Her Groove Back or Night of the Living Dickheads"
2014–15 Comedy Bang! Bang! Network President Recurring role; 5 episodes
2015–17 The Carmichael Show Joe Carmichael Main cast; 32 episodes
2015 The McCarthys Dr. Hugh Morris Episode: "Family Therapy"
2015 The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Ben Carson Episode: "Vin Diesel/Selena Gomez"
2015 Cutthroat Kitchen Himself/judge Episode: "Taco Dirty to Me"
2016 The Eric Andre Show Himself/David Alan Thicke Episode: "Dennis Rodman; Haley Joel Osment"
2017–19 Snap Decision Host 60 episodes
2017 A Christmas Story Live! Santa Claus Live performance
2018 A Series of Unfortunate Events Hal 2 episodes
2018–19 The Cool Kids Hank Main role
2019 Catastrophe Tim Cabot Episode #4.6
2019 A Black Lady Sketch Show Preacher 2 episodes
2019 Queen Sugar Jimmy Dale 3 episodes
2019 The Resident Lamar Broome Recurring role; 3 episodes
2020 At Home with Amy Sedaris Pippen Episode: "Inspiration"
2021 Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! Pops Dixon Main role
Joe Pickett Vern Dunnegan Episode: "Monster at the Gate" (episode #1.1)


Year Title Role Notes
1981 The First Jackie Robinson
1982 Dreamgirls James Thunder Early Replacement
1982 A Soldier's Play Private C.J. Memphis Replacement
1983 Richard III Murderer / Richmond
1994 The Merry Wives of Windsor Master Frank Ford
1996 One Touch of Venus Whitelaw Savory
1997 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum Pseudolus / Prologus Replacement
2006 The Wiz The Wiz
2009 Race Henry Brown
2012 Porgy and Bess Sporting Life
2015 The Wiz Live! The Cowardly Lion / Robert The Farmhand Man #2
2020 A Soldier's Play Sergeant Vernon C. Waters

Awards and nominations

Year Awards Category Movie/Serie Outcome
1982 36th Tony Awards Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical "The First" Nominated
1983 Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup for Best Actor "Streamers" Won
1999 NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series "Damon" Nominated
2003 NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series "Life with Bonnie" Nominated
2004 Satellite Awards Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Television Series "Life with Bonnie" Nominated
2010 Tony Awards Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play "Race" Nominated
2012 Tony Awards Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical "Porgy and Bess" Nominated
2013 Grammy Awards Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album "Porgy and Bess" Nominated
2020 Drama Desk Award Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play "A Soldier's Play" Nominated
2021 Tony Awards Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play "A Soldier's Play" Won


  1. ^ Katsilometes, John (July 1, 2010). "Albino gorillas? Farrakhan: The Musical? With Grier, anything is possible". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
  2. ^ "David Alan Grier". Biography. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
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  10. ^ "Most Anticipated Movies of 2020 List, Watch Trailers". The Hollywood Reporter. 2020-02-17.
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  16. ^ "59th Annual GRAMMY Awards Winners & Nominees". GRAMMY.com. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
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  18. ^ David Alan Grier wins his first Tony Award, kicking off ceremony Tim Balk. New York Daily News. September 26, 2021. Retrieved September 26, 2021
  19. ^ "'Dancing With The Stars' Season 8 Cast Revealed!". Access. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
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  22. ^ "The best things to eat, drink and do in Chicago - RedEye Chicago". Chicago Now. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
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  29. ^ "Yates, Gobert, Hayes To Ride In 4th Annual Seattle 100 Charity Event At Pacific Raceways". roadracingworld.com. 2005-02-19. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
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  32. ^ Adam Carolla Podcast, 2009-05-29